Structural changes of the human superior cervical ganglion following ischemic stroke

Gineta Liutkiene, Rimvydas Stropus, Anita Dabuzinskiene, Mara Pilmane

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OBJECTIVE: The sympathetic nervous system participates in the modulation of cerebrovascular autoregulation. The most important source of sympathetic innervation of the cerebral arteries is the superior cervical ganglion. The aim of this study was to investigate signs of the neurodegenerative alteration in the sympathetic ganglia including the evaluation of apoptosis of neuronal and satellite cells in the human superior cervical ganglion after ischemic stroke, because so far alterations in human sympathetic ganglia related to the injury to peripheral tissue have not been enough analyzed. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We investigated human superior cervical ganglia from eight patients who died of ischemic stroke and from seven control subjects. Neurohistological examination of sympathetic ganglia was performed on 5 microm paraffin sections stained with cresyl violet. TUNEL method was applied to assess apoptotic cells of sympathetic ganglia. RESULTS: The present investigation showed that: (1) signs of neurodegenerative alteration (darkly stained and deformed neurons with vacuoles, lymphocytic infiltrates, gliocyte proliferation) were markedly expressed in the ganglia of stroke patients; (2) apoptotic neuronal and glial cell death was observed in the human superior cervical ganglia of the control and stroke groups; (3) heterogenic distribution of apoptotic neurons and glial cells as well as individual variations in both groups were identified; (4) higher apoptotic index of sympathetic neurons (89%) in the stroke group than in the control group was found. CONCLUSIONS: We associated these findings with retrograde reaction of the neuronal cell body to axonal damage, which occurs in the ischemic focus of blood vessels innervated by superior cervical ganglion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-398
Number of pages9
JournalMedicina (Kaunas, Lithuania)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • human superior cervical ganglion
  • sympathetic neuron
  • apoptosis
  • ischemic stroke
  • TUNEL method

Field of Science*

  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.2 Clinical medicine

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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